Artist Spotlight: A Conversation with Jock Soto
Legendary ballet dancer Jock Soto, considered one of the greatest ballet dancers of the last 50 years, joins The Lensic’s Joel Aalberts for a live, online conversation about dance in quarantine and the future of the art form.
Join us Saturday at 2 pm here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXK20bd3vYg.
Register below by 9 a.m. on October 3 if you’d like to receive a reminder email.
About the Artist
Please note: Wendy Whelan, associate artistic director of New York City Ballet, was originally scheduled to participate in this event. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she will not be able to join us.
Jock Soto, who is half Navajo and half Puerto Rican, was born in Gallup, New Mexico. He began dancing at five, and at 16 he was selected by New York City Ballet founder George Balanchine to join the company. Soto became the youngest principal dancer in company history and a force that helped define the identity of the prestigious institution for more than two decades. Acknowledging his status as one of the world’s most influential modern ballet dancers, the New York Times has said: “Ballet is a man called Jock.”
At the age of five, Jock Soto began studying ballet with local teachers after seeing a television special featuring Edward Villella in the Rubies section of George Balanchine’s Jewels. Mr. Soto continued his studies at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet. While at the School, Mr. Soto danced the role of “Luke” in Peter Martins’ The Magic Flute, which was choreographed for the School’s 1981 Workshop performances. That year, Georges Balanchine invited him to become a member of the Company’s corps de ballet. In June 1984 he was promoted to the rank of soloist, and one year later, he was elevated to principal dancer.
Mr. Soto’s extensive repertory includes featured roles in many of George Balanchine’s ballets, including Agon, Allegro Brillante, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (second, third, and fourth movements), Bugaku, Cortege Hongrois, Danses Concertantes, Donizetti Variations, Episodes, Firebird, The Four Temperaments, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Glinka Pas de Trois, Rubies from Jewels, Kammermusik No. 2, Liebeslieder Walzer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Mozartiana, Orpheus, Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlerdanze, Scotch Symphony, La Sonnambula, Stars and Stripes, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Union Jack, Vienna Waltzes, and Western Symphony. He has also danced featured roles in a number of ballets by Jerome Robbins, including Afternoon of a Faun, The Cage, Dances at a Gathering, The Four Seasons, Glass Pieces, I’m Old Fashioned, In the Night, Moves, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and West Side Story Suite, as well as Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto, Swan Lake, Symphonic Dances, and Valse Triste, and Robert La Fosse’s Concerto in Five Movements.
Mr. Soto appeared as a guest artist with the Kirov Ballet in Jewels in 2003 and at the Bolshoi Theatre with stars from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in 2003. In addition to his guest appearances, Mr. Soto has staged numerous ballets around the World, including works by Balanchine, Robbins, Martins, and Wheeldon.
Mr. Soto’s television appearances with New York City Ballet include five Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts on PBS: “A Choreographer’s Notebook: Stravinsky Piano Ballets by Peter Martins,” “Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake choreographed by Mr. Martins; Ray Charles in Concert with the New York City Ballet, reprising his role in A Fool for You; New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography, dancing in Chiaroscuro, Mercurial Manoeuvres, and Them Twos; and Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100, dancing in Liebeslieder Walzer. Mr. Soto also appeared in Mr. Bonnefoux’s Five, as part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Works in Process series on PBS. He has appeared on seven episodes of Sesame Street, including three in which he appeared with former NYCB principal dancer Lourdes Lopez.
In addition to his performing career, Mr. Soto served as a member of SAB’s permanent faculty from 1996 to 2015. He continues to teach at numerous dance departments around the country. During the 2017 New Mexico State legislative session, Mr. Soto received the State’s Certificate of Appreciation from Senator John Pinto for his contribution to the arts.
Water Flowing Together, a feature documentary on Mr. Soto, was aired on PBS in 2006.
Our Meals, Making a Home for Family and Friends, written by Mr. Soto and Heather Watts, was published by Penguin Publishing in 1998.
Every Step You Take, Mr. Soto’s critically acclaimed memoir, was published by Harper Collins in 2011.
Mr. Soto and Luis Fuentes were married by Gov. William F. Weld in New York City in 2011. They currently reside in Eagle Nest, NM.